“We’re not heroes by far. We’re just doing what we have to do.”
These are Darren Reynolds’ words, a 62-year-old firefighter with the Scotch Creek/Lee Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
On Friday, Aug. 18, when an inferno ripped through the region, Reynolds’ home was in its path.
Minutes before, Darren was at the Scotch Creek bridge helping take down danger trees to preserve it.
The firefighters returned to the fire hall, “just before the hell broke loose,” he says.
Darren’s son Nathan and Nathan’s girlfriend Savannah are also firefighters. Nathan and Savannah came back to the firehall, distraught.
“So I knew we had lost our property because he was just down that street. He watched it happen.”
Despite their devastation, Darren said they were about to go fight spot fires as the weather improved.
“You have to, you can’t just stop.”
Just 30 seconds later, however, fire descended from every direction.
They escaped to safety, but after a break with family, Darren and Nathan returned.
It’s not incredible dedication on his part, Darren declares.
“This is my neighbourhood. I don’t have another neighbourhood. “And nobody should have to go through this. It’s pretty ugly.”
His voice wavers.
He points out other firefighters have lost their homes and are still going hard.
“I’m proud of the whole North Shore to tell you the truth.”
Firefighters help when they get a chance, but the needs are great, he says.
“People don’t understand that. They think they should all come first. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way... If I didn’t think the way I do, I would have said ‘to hell with the bridge’ and I would have went and protected my house. Instead, I don’t know how many thousands of people we got out of here.”
Darren closes by saying he wishes people could be a little kinder.
“Unless you walk in my boots through this, you shouldn’t really say anything negative.”